How to Say Good-bye?

January 26, 2013 – Surely death is hallowed ground, and the transition from this life to eternity a sacred doorway. I drove them today, four grandchildren in an unpacked car over highways and state roads. I drove them under a blue sky, the radio playing quiet tunes until we could no longer pick up the signal of the Christian radio station in Tallahassee. I drove them so they could hold their grandpa’s hand one last time, so they could say goodbye because we knew now that death was close. Continue reading “How to Say Good-bye?”

The Preacher’s Ticker

The first time the preacher’s ticker had a meltdown was in December of 1982. I was 13. I’d gotten off the school bus and flung open the front door of my home with sophomoric confidence. I was glad to be done with what I considered the captivity of the school day, glad to forage freely through cupboards for an after-school snack. But I hadn’t known the drama that had quietly unfolded in my home just hours before I’d arrived there. Continue reading “The Preacher’s Ticker”

Roatan Journal: Day 8

It’s time to go home. We say our farewells to Enrique, Henry and Francis outside the airport where we first arrived with clean clothes and balanced intestines. We board our plane and settle in seats. Bailey and I are together, but Mike is seated in another row, too far forward to see. Bailey and I talk about what we’re looking forward to once we get off the plane. We’re excited about flushing toilet paper in the robust sewer systems of the States. We can’t wait to drink water out of the tap. We’re hopeful our digestive systems will calm down once we’re home. And we can’t wait to get back to Claire, Will and Ellie. We’ve missed them. It’s hard to be away for a week without talking with them. I wonder how they are, how tired Grandma and Grandpa might be after caring for them all week. Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 8”

Roatan Journal: Day 7

Day 7. We rise to smells of Elmer’s coffee and a light salted breeze from the ocean. Our team is playful, having grown easy with one another over the course of seven days. Today we won’t be going to la Colonia. Our work, for this trip at least, is complete. Instead we’ll spend the day enjoying the island before we have to board our plane for home tomorrow. Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 7”

Roatan Journal: Day 6

Day 6. It’s handprint day. Brightly colored paints wait in containers at the newly whitewashed wall. I’m not sure the kids quite know what to make of it, the dipping of hands into the thick, drippy paint. Our Spanish is lame, and we communicate mostly in sign and gesture and badly pronounced vocabulary. But the kids get the hang of it soon enough. The wall quickly fills with sets of hands that we identify by name with a black marker. They’re leaving their mark on this wall, on this community. “I am here,” the handprints seem to say, “and I matter.” Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 6”

Roatan Journal: Day 5

A few posts ago, I was sharing journal entries from a trip to Roatan, Honduras last summer. I never got past Day 4. Out of the blue though, I got an email from a friend considering moving there, and it brought back a flood of memories and feelings. I decided to go back to Roatan by way of those journal entries and pick up the story.

Day 5. Our intestines are rebelling. Half the team is sick, but the work is still getting done. The pump house is beginning to take shape with the laying of block for the walls. Mike has had the kids in the Colonia whitewashing a wall across from the play yard where we’ve been gathering them for stories and games. It will take three coats by the end of the day, but tomorrow we’ll get all their hand prints on that white wall. Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 5”

Night Slips Gently

The day’s events parade across the streets of my mind as sun slips behind trees; the day is coming to an end. On a ticket in the kitchen of the restaurant where I sit is my order for glazed salmon. I am wrapping up a day that has been spent mostly alone, away from home. I’m midway through my return home now, watching out the restaurant window as the curtain falls on a day I have fully savored. Continue reading “Night Slips Gently”

Roatan Journal: Day 4

Day 4. The pump house team has finished the excavation of trench around the concrete pad where the well is dug. Arms are sore from breaking up rock with a pickaxe. Our team mixes and pours concrete now, leveling the wet mud so block can be laid. Enrique found us two locals this morning, and we’ve paid them to help with the work. They’ve taken over the role of boss now, pointing and directing in Spanish. They know what they’re doing and work deftly, unfazed by the lack of equipment and tools we take for granted. Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 4”

Roatan Journal: Day 3

Day 3. Enrique arrives after breakfast, and we climb in the back of his truck with our gear. We fill water jugs at Henry’s house and begin the ascent to the Colonia. The roads are badly eroded from rains. Some aren’t navigable. Enrique’s Toyota creaks and rocks as we climb. We’re at such a steep angle we can see the hood of the truck but not the road. The foot traffic is dense. The cars are just as talkative as at the airport, beeping their island chatter as they whir past. Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 3”

Roatan Journal: Day 2

Day 2. We wake with the sun at six o’clock, veiled as it is by a mantle of stratonimbus. It’s quiet except for the intermittent comings and goings of a pickup truck with an engine that sounds like coffee percolating. The day is fresh, the water luring. On the dock, looking into glassy water, I can see all the way to the bottom. I feel as though I’m peering into an aquarium. Small fish dart in and out of the swaying grass. Continue reading “Roatan Journal: Day 2”